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USF Band Readies for New Year's UK March

Dec 31, 2012

The USF Herd of Thunder marching band had an eventful 2012, which included performances on the Today show and at the Republican National Convention.

Former Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster, Duncan Sandys, poses with members of the USF Herd of Thunder Marching Band at March 2012 invitation event.
Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF News

But 2013 might be tough to top, as they'll ring in the New Year with possibly the most important performance in band history.

More than a hundred members of the USF marching band, along with two alumni members who now live overseas, will take part in London's 27th annual New Year's Day Parade. The HOT is the only major American university band invited to the event, which is expected to be seen by more than 220 million people worldwide. The parade will be broadcast by WUSF TV.

Athletic band director Matthew McCutchen says preparations have included "street drills" for the kind of parade marching the students haven't had to do a lot of before.

“Anybody who’s ever seen the Macy’s Day Parade understands that the band marches up, then stops and moves around a little bit right in front of the cameras," said McCutchen, who previously brought a high school band he directed to the London parade.

"For year’s, Macy’s was about  the only one that did this, but London started doing it a while back, so we’ve had to learn how to do street drill since we’re the honor band at the end and we had two rehearsals specifically for that.”

And while practice may show students how they'll march, there's one element it can't get them ready for: the London weather. "It'll be pretty cold in London and when we were doing our rehearsals, we were still in shorts and t-shirts," McCutchen said. "So we're not ready for that aspect, but we're ready for everything else that will come our way."

During their weeklong stay, the band will be able to explore London, with museums and Windsor Castle topping the list of destinations.

WUSF TV will broadcast the event beginning at 6:45 a.m. on New Year’s Day. The parade is scheduled to end at 10:30 a.m.  WUSF TV will rebroadcast the parade at 1:00 p.m. You can watch the HOT band over the air on 16.4 WUSF Knowledge, on Comcast on channel 207, on Verizon FiOS on channel 471, and on Bright House on channel 619.